Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Real War on Christmas

Some people love to talk about religious tolerance, but I hope they don't forget the very real plights that happen around the world.

This article is a round-up of the difficulties faced by Christians in countries where routinely tortured and/or killed for their faith. Indonesia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Cuba, India, Eritrea, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan . . . the list goes on and on.

Is it hard to be a Christian in America? Sure. There's a constant buzz of temptation to "join the dark side" by compromising or abandoning our faith and principles, and there is a constant attempt to marginalize our faith and completely remove it from the public square. However, as much as there are people who wish they could do it, I doubt that any of us will ever be drug into the street and executed for being Christians.

Contrast this with what happens in some of these other countries. People concerned with basic human rights and religious liberties should be outraged about such abuses. And Christians . . . we should be constantly praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters and doing everything in our power to help them.

6 comments:

meera said...

i agree with your statement: "People concerned with basic human rights and religious liberties should be outraged about such abuses" - and it should be expanded to any persecution based on religion, race, gender, sexual identity, etc.

i think, though, that as long as there are different religions and people believing that their own one is the only true one, there will always be religious persecution. over the years, haven't almost all religions been both the attacker and the attacked?

Hal said...

"and it should be expanded to any persecution based on religion, race, gender, sexual identity, etc."

You're right. People complain about gay rights in America, but homosexuals are beheaded in Saudi Arabia. So let's keep some perspective, shall we?

"i think, though, that as long as there are different religions and people believing that their own one is the only true one, there will always be religious persecution."

Not necessarily. There is nothing, for example, the teachings of Jesus, that dictates killing or oppressing unbelievers. On the other hand, the Qu'ran dictates that non-Muslims can never politically rule over Muslims, and Muslims must fight to change this. Also, non-Muslims are subject to an "unbeliever's tax" if they are to live under Muslim control.

Simply believing that your religion is the only true religion (because really, all believe this) doesn't make you a killer or an oppressor.

"over the years, haven't almost all religions been both the attacker and the attacked?"

Perhaps. But always ask two questions: 1) Do the teachings of that religion promote that violence? 2) Does that excuse today's violence in any way?

meera said...

ick - i wrote a whole response and then i got an error when i tried to submit it. here's me trying again.

there is definitely a difference in severity between being beheaded and not being allowed to marry. however, they are both cases of a person being persecuted because of who s/he is and the group s/he belongs to - much as is happening with the christians.

i don't believe the qur'an dictates violence, though i don't disagree that other people have interpreted it as such. I am pretty sure that others agree (the relavent section is titled "Muslim Popular Tradition and the Interpretation of the Qur'an")

i think the same thing of christianity - it doesn't, in my knowledge, advocate violence or oppression. that, however, doesn't stop others from acting that way in the name of religion

i don't think most religions promote persecution, but there are many people who use the teachings to justify those actions. you are right, just because everyone is doing it does not make it ok. i guess i was just point out that it happens frequently anyway.

p.s. COMPLETELY off topic - how is your finger/hand?

Hal said...

Hand is fine. Kinda tender still. I'm really hoping the PA put in enough stitches (looking at the wound, I'm almost wondering if she should have used three, but I'm the paranoid type when it comes to things like this).

I think you missed my point, however, about violence in religion. I don't care what kind of justifications people make. If you READ the actual teachings of the religion, what does it say?

You don't believe the Qu'ran teaches violence. Why? Have you read the portions people claim teach violence? What counter-interpretation do you offer?

The point I simply make is that it is not indicative of a religion what people claim to do in its name if it is simply not compatible with the actual teachings of the religion.

And I just mean that we should keep perspective because some people get quite excited about injustices, real or imagined, in this country. But most of those suffered in America are meaningless compared to the real injustices people experience in other countries.

Another example? During a UN remembrance day of slavery, much of the time was spent talking about reparations of slavery ancestors in America. Yet, there was not one mention of the slavery that still takes place in Sudan and other parts of Africa. That's what I mean by perspective.

If all of that was a bit rambling and incoherent, my apologies. My apartment is insanely hot (stupid broken heaters!).

meera said...

You don't believe the Qu'ran teaches violence. Why? Have you read the portions people claim teach violence? What counter-interpretation do you offer?

i have read the portions that people claim teach violence, and have also discussed their interpretations with those who have studied the scripts. many of the lines are misinterpreted because they are taken out of context. when a verse is read alone, it may seem as if it is telling the people to kill for the religion, but if you read the preceding and following verses, you will realize that it is a conditional statement.

a common verse that is referred to as advocating violence is: "slay them wherever you catch them" (qur'an 2:191). but if you read the whole section, it says: "Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loves not transgressors. And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith. But if they cease, God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevails justice and faith in God; but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression" (qur'an 2:190-193).

if read in context, these verses merely speak of defense. it clearly states not to "trangress limits", not to fight unless they fight, and to stop if the other party stops attacking.

statements in other religious texts speak of such sorts of defense. though i am not as knowledgable in the bible as i'm sure you are, i was under the impression that it also speaks of violence for the sake of defense: "And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand." (exodus: 2:11-12) and "All who draw the sword will die by the sword" (matt 26:52b).

by no means does this, in my understanding, say that one is allowed to go kill a lot of people or anything - but i do feel like it demonstrates that there may be a time when it is justified. incorrect interpretations and sweeping generalizations of these statements are what, in my opinion, cause people to act in a manner not advocated by any religion.

and on that note, i hope you have a merry christmas and a happy new year! oh, and i hope that your house heaters aren't broken as well :).

Anonymous said...

I'd like to address a few of these comments- Moses was by no means a model Jew/Christian. Most people spoken of in the Bible do not follow God's commandments. King David had an affair and had her husband killed. Moses ended up drunk and naked one night. And of course, we all know the story of Judas, who was supposed to be a model Jew/Christian; he was a Disciple, after all.
In The Book of Luke, Chapter 6 it is stated
If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.
Even as a Christian, if we are persecuted, we are to love the persecutor, and want them to see the light. Love over hate.
Also, not to get into an argument about homosexuality, but I noticed a logical error in someone's argument- don't homosexuals have the same right to marry that heterosexuals do? I keep hearing that they don't- but whatever one's sexual orientation, they may lawfully marry one of the opposing gender. That's the law. It doesn't change based on orientation. Just because I may be straight, doesn't give me the right to marry another man. Is it an argument of semantics? Probably. I just get upset when people yell "equal rights," when what they really mean is different rights for all.